Connecticut, through the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), has been awarded a State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) Grant from the Small Business Administration (SBA). The grant runs from October 1, 2023 through September 29, 2024. Through this grant, DECD has created an Export General Assistance Fund (GAF) to increase the number of eligible small businesses (ESBCs) that export, increase the value of exports by ESBCs, and increase the number of ESBCs exploring significant new trade opportunities.
Eligible activities include trade shows, trade missions, marketing and internationalization, U.S. Department of Commerce services (Gold Key, International Partner Search, International Company Profile), export training opportunities, website translation, and export B2B matchmaking.
First, review the STEP Program Guidelines
Please review the STEP FY '23-24 Program Guidelines (Click here for hyperlink) before beginning the application process. Please be aware there are programmatic changes from fiscal year to fiscal year. It is the applicant's responsibility to review the guidelines.
Second, Set Up An Account
You will need a SMApply account to apply. If you have registered in the past through our FluidReview site, please use your previous account email login and password. For new users, please click on the Sign-Up button to create your new account. Then click on the link provided in the activation email sent to your registration email address. This will activate your account and allow you to log in to complete the application process. Once you have completed this step, you can sign back in and make changes at any time.
Next, Select Your Activity
Select: General Assistance Fund (GAF) FY '23-24
Then, Complete and Sign Application Forms
Six forms are required to complete the process. One will be completed online. The other five require you to download, complete them offline, provide a handwritten signature and scan/upload your forms back to the system.
1. Complete the online Application Form for your Selected Activity
2. Download and complete the:
- Self-Certification Form
- Debarment Form
- Agency Vendor Form
- W-9 Forms
- Strategic Export Plan (template provided)
3. Once complete, scan/upload the documents. Then click Finalize Your Submission.
Your STEP FY '23-24 application materials will be reviewed on a first come, first served basis. Pending the availability of Connecticut STEP FY '23-24 funds, 'eligible small business concerns' that complete an application prior to their proposed activity and have a planned export activity or event that meets the criteria set forth in the Program Guidelines, will be notified via email that their reimbursement request has been approved.
All applications are due no later than September 15, 2024. Applications will be reviewed and funds will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis, pending Connecticut STEP FY ‘23-24 funding availability.
Execute Your Planned Export Event / Activity
Once approved, execute your planned activity as outlined in your STEP FY '23-24 application and projected budget.
Submit all reimbursement request documentation to DECD within (2) weeks of a completed activity and no later than October 13, 2024. No partial reimbursement requests will be accepted.
You will need to log back into https://STEPgrant.smapply.io to complete your reimbursement request. There you will be asked to submit:
- Post-Activity Report/Survey;
- Receipts documenting payment for all registrations, service fees and other costs associated with your approved STEP FY '23-24 activity (i.e. bank/credit card statements, check stubs, invoices with a zero balance); and
- STEP Grant Activity Invoice to request payment of your reimbursement from DECD.
Requests will be reviewed and processed as they are received on a first come, first served basis. Processing time for the State of Connecticut payment system can take anywhere from 2-4 weeks. STEP FY '23-24 participants should incorporate this lead time into their internal budgeting processes as DECD will be unable to expedite individual company payments.
If you have any questions, please contact:
If you have any technical questions about how to use the site, please contact and the software application provider who can help address your questions using the Help "i" drop-down menu in the top right of this window.